Archive for November, 2013

I have mentioned a few posts ago about a cheap 3G module that would fit in my HP EliteBook 8530w laptop. It seems, at least at HP, they call it a WWAN (Wireless Wide Area Network) module, but whatever it’s called, I am more interested in getting it to work.

When I checked my mail this afternoon, the 3G module had arrived. So, it’s time to play with my new toy ;)


So, let’s get started


My greatest problem was finding fitting screws. I was only able to find one screw that would fit, so that’s why there is only one screw there. But it sits in its slow. So… let’s see if it works, right?


The BIOS recognises the device, and it’s enabled in the configuration, we’re ready to go. In order to use a 3G Modem, I need a SIM card. I have chosen for a pre-paid card from the virtual provider *bliep. The SIM card slot is behind the battery. In order to use this SIM card, I have to “activate” it by inserting it into a phone and call a phone number. After having done is, it can be inserted in the laptop.


But after booting ArchLinux, the device is not recognised. There appears to be nothing at all. After a little research, I discovered this is because of the rfkill.

But first things first, installing the drivers:

$ yaourt -S gobi-loader gobi-firmware

Activating the automatic disabling of the soft-block

systemctl start rfkill-unblock@all
systemctl enable rfkill-unblock@all

Edit: the automatically unblocking doesn’t work well that way. It will need some more tweaking. The problem: this way the firmware will not be loaded. The goby-driver uses some udev rules to manage that, but the udev rules need to be parsed before the device becomes visible, which appears not to be the case using this method. But since 3G is not a feature I will be using much, I think I’ll leave it on manual unblocking for now. The code for that is rfkill unblock 3 or rfkill unblock wwan

Activating the ModemManager

systemctl start ModemManager
systemctl enable ModemManager

And when we start xfce4 then, we’ll see

Schermafdruk - 15-11-13 - 20:33:07

And then it’s just configuring the connection. All we need to know is the APN for *bliep, which is internet.arta and we’re ready to rock. What we see here is an IP address from the T-Mobile Netherlands range ;) It works!

Schermafdruk - 15-11-13 - 21:10:05

One thing to observe is the fact *bliep gives me a NAT’ed connection:

Schermafdruk - 15-11-13 - 23:23:31

Okay, so, I’ve got my ArchLinux installed on my HP EliteBook 8570w. I wish have the same installation on my HP EliteBook 8530w. The way to go, just make a copy of the root file system and put it on the other machine.

cd /
tar  --one-file-system -avpcf /mnt/usb-hard-disk/arch-rootfs-running.tar.xz .

Then boot up the other system, in UEFI mode, from the ArchLinux USB Flash stick, and follow UEFI installation guide up to and including formatting the partitions. (See also my previous post: UEFI Installation guide. Then, in stead of pacstrapping, we’re going to insert the usb-hard-disk where we made a tarball and extract it to the root file system partition.

mkdir /mnt/{hd,usb}
mount /dev/sda3 /mnt/hd
mount /dev/sdc1 /mnt/usb
cd /mnt/hd
tar -xvpf /mnt/usb/arch-rootfs-running.tar.xz

Now, we have a “clone” of the installation of the other machine. A few system specific stept must be performed to make this system ready for use. First, I will arch-chroot into the system:

arch-chroot /mnt/hd

I will set the hostname for this laptop

echo 8530w > /etc/hostname

I will remove the graphics card specific patch (See Glamot Acceleration Problems)

rm /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/20-radeon

I will remove the ssh keys, such that a new keypair will be generated. The same keys on two machines is a no-go

cd /etc/ssh
rm *key*

Another thing that must be done is generating a new fstab, as we have formatted new partitions, their UUID will be different. It is unique after all. (I am overwriting the file. I will re-add the NFS mounts later)

mount /dev/sda1 /boot/efi
mount /dev/sda4 /home
swapon /dev/sda2

genfstab -U -f / > /etc/fstab 

And finally, setting up the boot loader

grub-install –target=x86_64-efi –efi-directory=/boot/efi –bootloader-id=grub
grub-mkconfig > /boot/grub/grub.cfg

Which works fine on this laptop. The other laptop had an issue with efibootmgr.
However, the system boots up into an emergency console. Looking at the fstab generated, it had some weird entry causing the problem:

/etc/resolv.conf/etc/resolv.conf	/etc/resolv.conf	none      	rw,relatime,bind	0 0

Which is probably a remains from the booting from installation media and using the genfstab inside the arch-chroot, in stead of before.
Just removing the entry solves the problem, and then the system just boots up to the login prompt.

But, we’re not done yet. I have cloned the root file system, and not the home partition, Which means, there will be no home directory for my user.
so, log in as root,

mkdir /home/andre
chown andre:users /home/andre

Then, I can log out as root and log in as myself.

Just for convinience, I’ll copy some files from my other laptop’s home directory over:

scp -r 8570w:.config . 
scp -r 8570w:.thunderbird . 
scp -r 8570w:.mozilla . 

The xfce4-cpufreq-plugin didn’t really like this operation, but removing and re-adding it makes everything work. Also, I have to add the temperature monitor for the GPU again.

I was planning to swap the CPU’s of two computers, but I had to abort the plans. I assumed both machines were AMD Athlon 64 machines. But upon closer inspection,
it turned out one of the machines was an AMD Athlon, the earlier 32-bit CPU. Therefore, they have incompatible motherboards, and therefore, the plan is aborted.

The reason behind all of this. My AMD Athlon 64 machine is limited to 1 GB of RAM. The motherboard works fine with 1 memory module installed, but as soon as I insert a second memory module, it won’t even initialise the graphics card. A motherboard I once traded for a bottle of whisky. Anyways, I’ve gotten another working AMD system. I have only used it once or twice, and I thought it contained an AMD Athlon 64 CPU as well, but on closer inspection, it tured out to be an AMD Athlon.

Well… seems that plan got busted. Anyhow… the said machine will get its hard disks wiped and a clean install will be performed. I might just use the same trick as I’ve used on my laptop. Just unpack the root file system from a working installation. I might also install DUET, a loadable UEFI for BIOS based systems.

Since I’m suspecting the problems I have been experiencing booting ArchLinux on a WYSE S30 are related to the bootloader, I have created two bootable USB sticks with ArchLinux on it. One with a legacy GRUB, and the other with LILO. Both are available in AUR.

My original bootable USB stick was made on an 1 GB stick, which is rather small for the purpose. Therefore I’ve dd’d the content of the stick to a 4 GB stick, deleted and re-created the partition, and ran resize2fs on it.

After arch-chrooting (available in the arch-install-scripts package) into the partition, I’ve added the archlinux-fr repository to the pacman configuration and installed yaourt, so I can install stuff from AUR.

Installing grub-legacy appeared to go fine, but, the fact my host system is x86_64 caused a minor problem. The stage 1.5 and stage2 files got installed in /usr/lib/grub/x86_64-unknown in stead of /usr/lib/grub/i386-pc. After adding a symlink, the grub-install script works fine.

After that, I’ve dd’ed the content of the 4 GB stick to an 8 GB one. I have not adjusted the partitions, causing the following issue, and hence the -P ignore while installing LILP

sh-4.2# lilo -C /boot/lilo.conf -b /dev/sde1 -P ignore
Warning: Ignoring entry 'boot'
Warning: /dev/sde1 is not on the first disk
Warning: Device 0x0840: Inconsistent partition table, 1st entry
  CHS address in PT:  1:18:21  -->  LBA (8700)
  LBA address in PT:  2048  -->  CHS (0:33:3)
Warning: The partition table is *NOT* being adjusted.
Added Arch  +  *
Added Arch-wyse  +
4 warnings were issued.

The result, leading to two more-or-less bootable USB sticks. There are just little modification required, depending on how the BIOS of the WYSE S30 will identify the sticks to the bootloader. I am also suspecting this BIOS is what is causing the issues with GRUB2 and SYSLINUX.

Anyhow, the WYSE S30 is at Stack, so I cannot test any of these assumptions yet. Just working a little ahead, doing some preparations. What can I say? I do useful things while procrastinating… one trés importante exam coming up. I really need to pass that Discrete Structures exam, and then I can start my master’s project. And I must admit, it feels a little strange, thinking about it. Thinking about doing research, writing a paper. I mean… things are getting serious now, but, more then that. Thinking about people actually being interested in what I am going to do. The idea of what I am about to do is important. I mean… thinking it really matters…. it’s just weird you know.

Looking inside my laptop, I noticed:

An empty slow with wires

An empty slot with wires

I noticed an empty slow with two wires. I believe those are inteded to install a 3G module. There is a SIM slot behind the battery. Looking at my laptop’s (HP EliteBook 8530w) data sheet, the appropiate 3G module is an HP un2400. It’s available on ebay for US $13.58 + $2.89 shipping. According to google that’s about € 12. For that price i’d say it’s worth a try.

Looking at the datasheets of my other laptop’s (HP EliteBook 8570w) data sheet, the matching 3G Module is HP un2430. This is also available on ebay, but it’s a little more pricy: US $ 53.99 + $2.99 shipping. For that price, I say no thanks!

I mean, I don’t need it at all, but it would be a nice toy to play with. So, I wonder, would the cheaper un2400 also work in the new laptop? According to this thread on the hp forums it might be blocked by the BIOS. Damn, that would be a nasty trick to make people buy the expensive 3G card. I mean, what the fuck? The thing performs the exact same task, why it is 4 times as expensive?

So… I might buy that thing some time, and test it in both laptops. Who knows… but I will also be looking for an optical drive to use in the “upgrade bay” of my 8570w. I mean… a laptop without an optical drive feels kinda incomplete.

As I have mentioned before, my HP EliteBook 8530w has been experiencing overheating problems, which I expected to be related to dust. Undusting this laptop went easier then anticipated.

Step 1: Remove the keyboard screws, located at the bottom

Remove Keyboard Screws

Remove Keyboard Screws

Step 2: Unlock the keyboard locks, located at the top of the keyboard, between esc and f1, f4 and f5, f8 and f9, f12 and scroll lock/

Keyboard locked

Keyboard locked

Keyboard unlocked

Keyboard unlocked

Step 3: Remove the keyboard

Remove the keyboard

Remove the keyboard

The keyboard looks a little dusty on the back, however, the fan doesn’t look as dusty as expected. Appearances are deceiving.

Step 4: Remove the fan

Thick layer of dust

Thick layer of dust

As you see, there is a thick layer of dust at the air outlet of the fan, even though the fan blades are just a tiny bit dusty.



Now that thick layer of dust is removed, put everything together again in reverse order ;)

Now…. I am running the laptop at full speed (2.8 GHz in stead of 800 MHz) and make it compile stuff, to see if the overheating problem is solved.

Since I’ve been running ArchLinux I have been experiencing certain problems. When I try to log out from XFCE4, the system appears to hang. Then, I should switch to another tty, and switch back. Then the logout window is displayed, however, the background is scrambled.

I am also experiencing trouble taking screenshots. Also now, when I run xfce4-screenshooter, it hangs until I switch to another tty and back. This makes me think the problem is related to grabbing the content of the screen.

It seems, with the particular graphics chip that is in my new laptop, a new acceleration method called “glamor”

Since xf86-video-ati driver-1:7.2.0-1, glamor is automaticaly enabled with radeonsi drivers (Southern Island and superior GFX cards)

My graphics chip turns out to be such a “Southern Island” chip. From my /var/log/Xorg.0.log

[  3682.989] (--) RADEON(0): Chipset: "VERDE" (ChipID = 0x682d)

It says “VERDE”, which is, according to theRadeon Feature Matrixa Southern Island chip. The “marketing name” however, seems to be different, as the chip inside my laptop is called “FirePro M4000”. Whatever it’s called, it’s causing me trouble.

The Wiki page is even mentioning how to enable this “glamor” thing on older cards, but I wish to disable it. Looking at the man page of “radeon”, it reveals an option, “AccelMethod”, which can be either “EXA” or “glamor”.

Creating a /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/20-radeon.conf file with

Section "Device"
    Identifier "Radeon"
    Driver "radeon"
    Option "AccelMethod" "EXA"

solves the problem. I can now log out without having to switch to a different tty, and take screenshots. Also, the problem of the missing/blank icons in my system tray has been resolved by this.